QE2 (Reissue) by Mike Oldfield
I'm an unabashed fan of "progressive rock." I hum Mike Oldfield music in my sleep (this really annoys my wife). Imagine my delight at seeing that his 1980 album QE2 was reissued in late 2012. Frankly, it's an under-appreciated album. His longer works (Tubular Bells, Ommadawn, etc.) are classics, but you sometimes had to wade through the long, repetitive quiet parts to get to those great Oldfield guitar solos. Not in QE2. The songs are shorter and with a stronger, more accessible rock feel than his earlier work. That's not to say that there's not the necessary pomp--snippets of Bach in "Conflict," a brief horn fanfare in the title track, African drums, kettle drums...you get the idea. Ultimately, though, it's Oldfield's guitar that gets you. It's, well, majestic...and you never have to wait too long to hear it. The use of 1980s vocoders (synthesizers that give the singer kind of a robot voice) make the album seem a bit quaint and retro in a few places, but that's part of the fun. The bonus alternate takes and live tracks are OK (the stripped down live performances have an even harder edge), but lack the expansive sound of the main album. Ultimately...if you like this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing you'll like.